More than 120 students protested Monday outside of American University to demand justice for a Black student campus police dragged out of her home.
Protesters demonstrated outside of a disciplinary hearing for Gianna Wheeler after viral video showed her forcibly removed Sept. 27 from her unit at Frequency Apartments in Washington, D.C., according to the university’s student newspaper The Eagle. Reports conflict about why the police initiated the encounter with Wheeler.
“You’re dragging me,” the woman later identified as Wheeler shouted in the video.
She was shown challenging police at some points in the encounter and demanding, “get off of me,” at others.
“Grab the legs then,” Wheeler said. “Come on b—-s.”
She also shouted to onlookers: “AU treats their Black students.”
“This is my dorm room,” Wheeler said.
Aminta Zea, a sociology student at American University, posted the viral video on Twitter Sept. 27.
She said in the tweet accompanying the video:
“URGENT: @AmericanU has allowed for their clientele and DC PD to violently attack and remove a young Black student from her home without proper evidence. When is it EVER ok for a young woman to be attacked by MULTIPLE cops. AU doesn’t care about its Black students. #HandsOffGianna”
Another Twitter user @gotothezee tweeted Tuesday:
“It’s never ok. I’m disgusted. But this feeling seems to just be a constant for Black and Brown folks these days. #HandsOffGianna”
Wheeler was found not guilty at the hearing and had a month-long suspension that followed the incident lifted, Black Lives Matter D.C. said in a tweet and online Tuesday.
Protesters told the student newspaper Wheeler was falsely accused by another student of physical assault.
The organization, which organized the rally in support of Wheeler Monday, reported that American University initially sent police to Wheeler’s apartment to perform a wellness check on her.
“What should have been the university’s earnest concern about the mental and emotional well-being of the student, was weaponized and used to permanently traumatize Gianna,” Black Lives Matter organizers said online.
They said on the site that seven police officers went into the student’s room and removed her “against her will.”
“One police officer also took the time to mock and threaten, that Gianna was going to be on suspension from the school,” organizers said on the site. “Recently we have seen how the egregious misapplication of force, and the police state mentality can lead to state sanctioned murder, as in the case of Atatiana Jefferson.
“Black and brown students have the right to feel safe in their dorms; supported by their schools through their mental health issues, and not have those issues used as justification of violation of their other rights.”
American University said in a statement Fox 5 obtained last month that officers did use de-escalation techniques.
“As a University, we are focused on the safety and welfare of all of our students,” university officials said in the statement. “Our emergency response to members of the AU community is a collaborative effort between AUPD, the Office of Campus Life, the AU Counseling Center, and others to ensure a comprehensive effort that de-escalates a situation, prioritizes safety and provides the support required.”